It’s youth power all the way!

Over the past months, the space buffs had sleepless work schedules and shouldered critical operations

September 25, 2014 03:17 am | Updated November 17, 2021 11:06 am IST - BANGALORE:

BANGALORE - 24.09.2014 : Mission Operation Team members showing autograph signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at ISTRAC, in Bangalore on September 24, 2014.   Photo: K. Murali Kumar.

BANGALORE - 24.09.2014 : Mission Operation Team members showing autograph signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at ISTRAC, in Bangalore on September 24, 2014. Photo: K. Murali Kumar.

They are a bunch of 20-something space buffs working in what is this week’s hottest Indian satellite campus. Over the past months, they kept irregular, sleepless work schedules, shouldered critical operations and helped to ensure that nothing wrong happened to the mother of all ISRO projects to date, the Mars Orbiter Mission.

In the last few months, they were “really stuck with MOM.” Orbit achieved, ten months of vigil was temporarily over and it was time to let their hair down and celebrate the fruit of that hard work.

Inside the control rooms, they shook hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and took his autograph.

After Wednesday’s MOI (Mars Orbit Insertion), Kamlesh Kumar Sharma of ISTRAC has at least four reasons to exult about. “I was the first one to send the first command when MOM was launched [on November 5]; the first again in the TMI [Trans Mars Injection of December 1, 2013] and one of the very few lucky ones to work as a prime controller during today’s [Wednesday’s] MOI burn. I was also [among] the first to verify the good news that we received after 21 minutes,” he said.

Kamlesh is part of the telemetry team that controls the spacecraft during its transit. On September 14 and 15, too, he was involved in loading the commands and contingency plans to the spacecraft — the same commands that were executed on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, after an overnight vigil at the ISTRAC spacecraft control campus, MOI brought a small respite to Kamlesh and his associates Rishabh Mishra, flight dynamics colleague Padmdeo Mishra and network operations engineer Nitesh Kumar.

Mishra’s task was to plan the engine burn duration and the small velocity difference that the spacecraft must reach. One wrong calculation and the spacecraft would have flown past Mars into the unknown.

Some 300 days later, they say there is work ahead: the orbiter must be carefully watched and tended to.

“We have already been monitoring the 4,000 parameters of the spacecraft 24x7. Now, the watch continues, it may be for six months, two years or more,” one of them said.

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